Austin Jerman is jumping right into basketball.
"Right now, it doesn't feel like football is over," he said this week.
"It feels like next year I'm going to have another season," said Jerman.
Times Observer photo by Ben Oviatt
Warren Area High School’s all-time leading passer Austin Jerman is introduced, with parents, Shari and Pat, during Senior Recognition before the Titusville at Warren football game at War Memorial Field.
The standout senior quarterback has played his last high school football game, but has dreamed of playing at the next level. That dream might become a reality.
Before he's had much time to reflect on a high school career that includes the county's all-time career passing record, Jerman has already visited Division II Clarion University and Mercyhurst University, as well as Division I-AA Duquesne.
"Now that the season is over, I've thought about it more and more," said Jerman. "If I were to go to the next level, quarterback (is the position I'd want to play)."
Jerman has dreamed about playing pro football "on TV" since he was a little kid in the Warren County Youth Football League. It was only last year - as a junior in high school - did he start thinking about playing college football.
"We had a bad season (as a team), but our offense was able to put up some points (last year)," he said.
Jerman didn't fall in love with the quarterback position until seventh grade when this group of seniors was 1-5 in their first junior high football season, he said. "They didn't have anyone else to put out there," said Jerman.
"Football has been number one by four miles," he said. "It's always been my favorite (sport), even when I was younger, out playing (with friends) in the snow."
Those same friends just finished 9-3 in their senior season and a trip to the District 10 Class AAA playoffs; a turnaround from last year's 2-8 season.
"Last year was kind of our (varsity) debut and we didn't live up to what we (had always) wanted," said Jerman. "But what we were able to accomplish this year was awesome."
Despite being eliminated in the playoff semifinals by the top-ranked Class AAA team in the state, Jerman - and the Dragons - certainly made an indelible mark on the program.
In head coach Brad Wright's shotgun spread offense, Warren averaged close to 40 points a game and won its first playoff game in 10 years.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 180-pound Jerman became Warren Area High School's and Warren County School District's all-time passing yardage leader. He finished with 4,348 career passing yards, which is sixth all-time in District 10. Jerman passed Eisenhower graduate Cody Crosby (4,221) for the Warren County record. He also led the Dragons in rushing with over 700 yards.
"Austin was able to achieve a higher level of play not previously achieved at this school," said Wright. "The reasons for this are many. First, I'd like to say that in terms of what you look for in quarterback, Austin has all of the intangibles. He has a very strong arm, is tall and athletic, can read defenses, can scramble and extend plays, can throw on the run and rarely if ever repeats a mistake. These are all things that he just doesn't do well, he excels at these aspects of QB play.
"In addition to this," Wright said, "Austin was very fundamentally sound in all aspects of quarterbacking and has a classic quick release. What really made my job easier as a coach with Austin, was that we were able to combine a great ground game system in the Veer option and a West Coast style in the passing game. His dual threat ability gave us a very dangerous balance of run and pass. This makes play calling a lot more easy when you have these options."
It's a good thing his coaches made him a quarterback in junior high.
"I began to take notice of him his freshman year," said Wright. "His ninth-grade coaches at the time were telling me that he had a bright future a head of him. I didn't get my first real extended look at him until his sophomore season when he started as our J.V. quarterback. Once I saw him put together a string of quality starts I began to think we might have a future star."
In two seasons as starting quarterback, Jerman has thrown for over 2,000 yards each season. He threw for 2,206 yards in 2011 and 2,091 yards as a senior. He is one of only two passers in D-10 history to reach 2,000 yards in two seasons. Corry's Scottie Frisina threw for 2,065 yards in 2009 and 2,010 in 2010, and he walked on at Division I West Virginia.
"His total of 2,206 yards during the 2011 season stands as the fourth highest all-time single season total in D-10 history," said Wright. "Austin ended up with 4,349 yards in just two seasons as a starter. That is absolutely remarkable. Had he another year as a starter, you might be looking at D-10's all-time career passing leader. He certainly is the undisputed best passing QB in Warren County football history and has cemented himself as one of D-10's all time best all-around QB's. On top of his passing totals, he also rushed for 895 yards and 13 rushing TD's in his two years as a starter."
Jerman joked that Frisina walking on at West Virginia isn't helping matters. He's had friends, Kory Thomas and Mitch McTavish, trying to convince him to try to walk on at West Virginia and Penn State, respectively.
For the time being, Jerman is focusing on finding a college that has a strong program for athletic training or physical therapy.
"Right now, I've been focusing on just the academics part," he said. "It's definitely just hitting me... going into this season I was focusing on the season ahead."
He said he doesn't have to make a decision about whether to or where to play college football until February.
He said he visited Clarion University with teammate Mark Davis on the weekend the Division II Golden Eagles were playing Slippery Rock. Davis was one of his primary receivers, and Jerman is not lost on the fact that the Dragons were a strong team, and not just individuals.
"One of Austin's best attributes was that he had the mental discipline and offensive awareness to spread the ball around to all of his talented receivers," said Wright, who added that Jerman is one of the best defensive backs he's coached, which helps his quarterbacking. "We ended up with six receivers over 100 yards this season. Three of those receivers had over 400 yards. He never dropped back and just looked for one guy. He always read the defense and delivered the ball to the correct person.
"Austin's county passing record is certainly something that we can attribute to an over all team effort," said Wright. "I felt that in my five years as head coach of Warren Area High School, this was our best all-around team. Our pass protection was the best in my five years here as well as our running game. Being better in both of these areas helped open up a lot of things in the passing game for this team."
Jerman said it's surreal to be asked where he is going to be playing college football, given that he's looking at mainly Division II colleges.
"I'm just going to see how it all plays out," he said. "I've been getting the question a lot and I just don't know how to answer it."
He thinks the Dragons the loss to No. 1 Cathedral Prep - 54-12 in the District 10 Class AAA semifinals - was a tremendous opportunity for Warren to show how far they've come.
"The caliber of players they had was unbelievable," said Jerman.
Prep's starting quarterback, Damien Terry, is District 10's all-time leading passer and is going to D-I Michigan State.
"He was fun to watch," said Jerman. "They are the best team in the state and have so many (college) recruits. I was a little sore after, but I think it was all worth it. For the most part, we held our own. Playing a team like that - a private school, I don't know if it's fair, but it was a good test. If they go on to win the state championship, we can say (we lost to the best team in the state)."
The game might have given Jerman a forecast into college ball, in which he said is obviously "much faster," and linemen much bigger.
"Austin has not made up his mind yet where he is going to college," said Wright. "At this point, his plan is to play college football somewhere. One thing is for certain, though: he is an intelligent young man who will be thinking of academics first."